Just when you thought the boutique system builder market had grown a bit state, Dell jumps in to try and freshen things up with its new Alienware X51, its smallest gaming desktop to date. The X51 is a small form factor (SFF) system with an equally small starting price of $699. It's built around Intel's second generation Core i3/i5/i7 platform and features an Nvidia GT or optional GTX class graphics card.
Hot on the heels of our review of the Blu-ray-like Acer Revo RL100-UR20P Lenovo has released a new, slim nettop that it claims is the teeny tiniest desktop to be found in all the land. The diminutive IdeaCentre Q180 comes in a couple different configurations, all of which run on a 2.13 GHz Intel Atom D2700 CPU and an AMD Radeon HD 6450A GPU. That won’t have you playing Crysis any time soon, but streaming HD video should be no problem.
In past months, we’ve shown you how to build rigs for less than $1,000, and we even built a surprisingly speedy $667 PC Value Meal. But what do you do when your budget is half that? Let’s face it, not everyone has half a grand or more to spend on a new computer, and not every build has to be a tricked-out gaming rig. Sometimes you just need a second computer for the family, or an HTPC that doesn’t break the bank. Heck, sometimes you just need a cheap first computer. That doesn’t mean you have to head to big-boxville and pick a prebuilt off the rack. Indeed, we’re betting that with a little elbow grease we can put together a machine for less than $350 that’ll perform basic tasks, if not with a surplus of power, at least without smoking and dying.
It has long been considered common wisdom that the smaller the size of a PC, the greater its compromises. Notebooks, no matter how fat, for example, will never touch the power of a desktop machine.
The same held true for small form factor rigs. But is that still the case? To find out how today’s SFF rigs compare with their full-size desktop brethren, we tasked five top PC makers with sending us their best and brightest, and, well, smallest machines.
The Origin Chronos was an early bet on which system would be the fastest here, as we’ve seen what other vendors can do in Silverstone’s fabulous FT03 case.
Despite it having the same volume as the AVADirect and iBuypower machines, the FT03 occupies a smaller footprint than all others here, including the CyberPower LAN Party Evo, yet it accommodates an incredible amount of hardware.
If you stopped a nerd in an electronics store and asked her to describe a small form factor PC, she’d just pull up a picture of CyberPower’s LAN Party Evo on her smartphone.
In many ways, this is the ultimate evolution of the original SFF design. The LAN Party Evo isn’t much bigger than the original SFFs of yesteryear, but peep these specs: a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K, a GeForce GTX 580 card, a 120GB Intel 510 SSD, and 1TB hard drive.
For our shoot-out, AVADirect came loaded for bear… as well as grabboid, sandworm, and arachnid, too. Yeah, basically AVADirect enters the scene packing a cartoonish amount of hardware firepower.
In what arguably pushes the definition of a small form factor rig, AVADirect’s Compact Gaming PC sports an Intel 3.46GHz Core i7-990X, 12GB of DDR3/1600, and two of AMD’s Radeon HD 6990 cards in CrossFireX mode.
Falcon Northwest’s FragBox is no new face around here. We’ve seen various iterations of this SFF over the years, but the latest is perhaps the most impressive. In a chassis that’s the second-smallest of the bunch—just slightly larger than CyberPower’s LAN Party Evo—Falcon manages to jam in not one, but two GeForce GTX 580 cards, along with a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K overclocked to 4.2GHz.
Boutique system vendor CyberPower today unveiled its new LAN Party EVO series of small form factor (SFF) desktop gaming systems. These configurable portable PCs come housed in either a Silverstone SG-07B Mini ITX case (LAN Party EVO Mini) or In-Win's chain-link armor inspired Dragonslayer mini tower (LAN Party EVO Xtreme, Commander, and Ultra models).
The mini-ITX version is perhaps the most interesting, if only because CyberPower manages to cram an impressive amount of hardware in such a small space. This one comes with an Intel Core i7 870 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, ATI HD 5770 videocard, and a 1TB hard drive for $1,079. These can all be upgraded.
"The LAN Party EVO Mini is known as one of the smallest footprint gaming systems but can accommodate even the monstrous ATI Radeon 5970 graphics card," CyberPower says.
All four baseline configurations include a liquid cooling solution and low dBA fans. In addition, CyberPower says users have the option of outfitting the Ultra model with sound absorbing foam, anti-vibration fan mounts, and power supply gaskets.